Kate Fleming has a pretty amazing story, filled with supportive mentors, smart decisions, and lessons learned along the way. After deciding college wasn’t for her, Kate took two Foundations classes at Code Fellows and the Web UI Development Accelerator. She graduated with three job offers and took a Solutions Engineer position with digital analytics consultancy Pointmarc. We talk to Kate about why the bootcamp model suits her better than traditional education, collaborating on projects at Code Fellows, and the power of a supportive network.
You have a pretty unique background for a bootcamper—tell us about it.
I graduated high school in 2013, so I didn’t have a professional or educational background before I went to Code Fellows in February 2014. I was the youngest graduate that they have ever had.
Did you try college after you graduated high school?
I went to South Seattle Community College for about a year and it just wasn’t for me. I was studying to go pre-med, which is something I’m still passionate about. I didn’t feel I was getting value out of the classes in college so I dropped out after my third quarter.
When you were in high school did you ever take a computer science class?
No, actually, not at all. I had a couple of months of what I had taught myself online before I went into Code Fellows, but I had no technical or programming background whatsoever.
What online resources were you using? Codecademy or Treehouse?
I was on Linda.com and I’d watch tutorials and that was really helpful. Then I’d follow up on that with Codecademy and try to code up some solutions.
How did you find out about bootcamps and Code Fellows specifically?
Did DevHub offer to pay for the Code Fellows class?
Yeah! The CEO actually offered to pay for that class—I was incredibly lucky and it was a great opportunity so I took it.
Tell us what you learned in the Development Accelerator—did you learn a particular technology stack?
We started off slow, getting into the fundamentals of how to make a website and write good code. That was one of the biggest lessons I took from Code Fellows: good design of my code and using the right code in the right places.
What was that Midterm Project?
It’s called Ask Now and it’s actually live. We were thinking “Yelp-meets-Craigslist,” so users get local answers from their community to questions that pertain to their location. For example, a user could ask “Hey, what was that loud explosion in downtown Seattle?” and get answers that they wouldn’t get in a Google search. We also worked on that project for our Final Project.
How did you get matched with your group for that project?
We all got to choose our groups and we were encouraged to not work with the same partners every week.
Tell us about the makeup of your class. Did you find that it was a diverse cohort in terms of age, gender, race?
We had about 12 or 13 people in our class with myself being the youngest and our TA who was probably in his late fifties. For the most part I would say the students were in their twenties.
We actually had a really great mix of guys and girls. I was expecting to go in and be in a class with a lot of men. We were slightly outnumbered by men but it was pretty even for the most part.
Who was the instructor for the class?
Dale Sande and Dexter Lesaca.
Dexter and Dale are both front-end designers. Dale is really into Sass, and it was cool to get firsthand experience on that topic from one of the world’s biggest contributors to it.
Their teaching style was awesome. They were two really fun guys who always made the material interesting and engaging. They were always available and no one got left behind in that class. We were all on the right track and they made sure of that.
Did everybody in your cohort graduate with you?
How many hours a week were you putting into Code Fellows?
Definitely more than a full time job. Probably 60-70 hours a week.
Now that you’re finished, did you think it was necessary to do the Foundations courses before the Dev Accelerator?
Absolutely, at least for someone like me with very little experience. People with a programming background or someone who understands some basic web and browser concepts might not need a Foundations course. But to come in and have very little experience, it was extremely helpful.
What was Code Fellows’ approach to getting you ready for interviews and job prep?
Every Friday we had a career development day, which would either be prepping our resumes, updating our LinkedIn, learning how to speak professionally, practicing mock interviews. Sometimes we’d have companies come in and talk with us.
Did your Development Accelerator do a demo day with hiring partners at the end of the course?
Two weeks before we graduated, Gina (of Code Fellows) sent out our resumes to their hiring partners so they had access to them first. There wasn’t an official day where a bunch of hiring partners came in, at least for my class. We did get feedback on those resumes.
Tell us about the job that you have now and the company that you’re working for.
Did you get all three of those job offers through Code Fellows?
One of the jobs was through Code Fellows. The other one contacted me directly. I found the job with Pointmarc through a friend.
Since DevHub had paid for this course, did you go back and work for them before you took the job at Pointmarc? What was the transition like there?
DevHub was actually super supportive. They encouraged me to take the best job I was offered to further my knowledge. They were my biggest support system when I made the decision to drop out of college, and are continually rooting for my success in life; I wouldn’t be the person I am today without them. I’m incredibly grateful.
That’s kind of amazing.
Yeah; it was totally shocking that they were so willing to help me get to the next level. I still talk to them almost every week and we hang out outside of work.
Are you planning on going back to a university for a traditional degree?
As of right now, no. I grew up in West Seattle in a culture that said I had to go to a four year university to be successful (and to be really successful, get a PhD). It was so frustrating to be sitting in classes, reading books that I’d already read three times and having a teacher who just handed out A grades.
But if I’ve learned anything thus far, with Code Fellows and my current job, it’s that I learn way more when I’m not confined to this traditional way of learning.
Did you think that Code Fellows was worth the money?
It was totally worth it. Once I had taken the Foundations I and II courses, I actually wasn’t sure if DevHub was going to pay for the Development Accelerator because it’s substantially more expensive. But I remember thinking, “I’m going to find a way to pay for it if they aren’t able to.”
Is there anything else you wanted to say about Code Fellows?
Their job offer guarantee. I think only 3% of students actually get their tuition refunded. At my age and with the little experience that I do have, hearing that I would be ready for a professional job was crazy. Their confidence in the ability to teach really restored my faith in schooling.